First ever shunga exhibition opens in Tokyo

The first major exhibition in Tokyo or Japan of shunga has finally opened.

Shunga Exhibition has started at the Eisei Bunko Museum in Bunkyo-ku.

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Celebrating the prints that were essentially Japan’s first erotic art and pornography, as we reported earlier in the year this is a first for Japan because of the traditional interpretation of obscenity laws that prevent the public display of genitalia — of which there is PLENTY of in shunga.

So the exhibition first very successfully showed in London at the British Museum, before the organizers (including former prime minister Morihiro Hosokawa) were able to get a Tokyo venue to agree to host the event. Several museums said no, though Eisei Bunko’s management must be happy with all the media fanfare the opening has generated.

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The Tokyo show is open only to those aged 18 and over. It runs until December 23rd and costs ¥1,500.

There are around 133 exhibits on scrolls and folding screens, with some being changed for the second half of the exhibition period.

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Shunga also includes the first known depiction in Japan of nanshoku (male homosexuality), as well as so-called “tentacle rape”, a common trope in what is often called in the west “hentai anime”.

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We plan to attend very shortly and let you know our thoughts on the show.

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